Temples of Japan

After our hike we drove across town just before closing time to walk the grounds of the Temple of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto (photo above). This is another former villa of a rich shogun which upon his death, was turned into a Zen Buddhist temple. From the photos of the temple, it always looked like it is out in the countryside, but a busy street is in front of the grounds and property is in an urban zone. Arriving 5 minutes before the front gate to the complex closing was excellent timing for photos and lack of crowds. It is a thin coating of gold foil, not made of solid gold. The shoguns loved their ponds and gardens, which made for a stunning reflection in the setting sun.

Temples in Japan are similar to the monasteries in Serbia for me. They are usually located in bucolic settings, which is the attraction, as I don’t seek spiritual things. It is also an insight into the culture of a country and there is always a bit of history. They make for a good destination for a day out and a reason to get out of the house.

The biggest temple in Minoh is the Katsuo-ji  (in Japanese, “ji” means temple) which I’ve blogged about before. It is a nice hike we can do from our house and takes about 4 hours round trip. On my brother’s first day in Japan, we went up through the Minoh quasi national park forest to the temple. Despite the rain, it was a relaxing hike and as you can see from the photo above, the clouds made it even more mystical.

Temples also have attractions for kids. They love to feed the koi, or as I call them, colorful carp. There is also incense and candles to light and reflect on family members, both living and dead. Most have a gong or bell that can be rung and the kids can also get a fortune paper and tie it to the string. At katsuoji, you can also get the Japanese dolls, daruma. We have darumas representing our family under the biggest cedar tree on the property.

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